An Ugly Pall on City Race

Letters

BY KELLY FRANKLIN SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY APR 25, 2015

The recent spate of personal attacks against Liz Alpert (attack mailings and a challenge by Ms. Normile at a community forum for voters to search for information about Ms. Alpert online) has cast an ugly pall over the campaign for City Commissioner.  

I took Ms. Normile up on her invitation to “Google" Liz.   I can't know what Ms. Normile took from that exercise, but what emerged for me was a portrait of a woman who faced financial hardship and personal adversity in her life and turned those experiences into opportunities to grow, expand and serve others.    

Given the ever-increasing polarization in American politics, it takes tremendous courage and conviction to run for electoral office these days. Liz has shown that courage multiple times, and I applaud her efforts and tenaciousness in the face of the long odds (given gerrymandering) she faced in prior campaigns. 

The city of Sarasota, while skewing Democratic in its registration, has previously elected several Republicans to office—which means to me a deserving candidate from either party can prevail here. 

I know a lot of my neighbors here in Laurel Park have supported Ms. Normile. I met her briefly at a recent community event, and left that brief encounter with a favorable impression.  After watching the video from the CONA forum and receiving a mailer with irrelevant and highly personal attacks against Liz, that impression has completely dissipated.  My change of opinion was even further reinforced by a recent robocall from Ms. Normile in which she ironically accuses Liz of receiving support from outside of Sarasota.  In fact, the converse is true (there is a PAC in Tampa which funded some of the recent attacks against Liz).

I wonder how my neighbors (many of whom are Democrats who supported Ms. Normile on the strength of a neighborhood leader's endorsement during the first round of voting) will feel in light of the harsh personal turn Ms. Normile's campaign has taken in the runoff?  I have to believe these mean-spirited tactics will backfire.

I truly am sorry it seems impossible for decent people to run for office these days without compromising their integrity by stooping to the level of personally denigrating others who seek to serve. David Brooks, a right-leaning pundit I am not usually inclined to quote, published a thoughtful editorial recently on the difference between seeking resume achievements and eulogy accomplishments.  I fear Ms. Normile has traded some of the latter in her quest to retain the former.  I don't think it will work.

Kelly Franklin, Sarasota

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